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7 May 2007
Climate changes caused the Neanderthal extinction?

Climate and not modern humans was the cause of the Neanderthal extinction in the Iberian Peninsula. Such is the conclusion of the University of Granada research group RNM 179, headed by professor Miguel Ortega Huertas. Together with other scientists from the Gibraltar Museum, Stanford University and the Japan Marine Science & Technology Center (JAMSTEC), the Spanish scientists published their innovative work in the scientific journal Quaternary Science Reviews.
     During the last Ice Age, the Iberian Peninsula was a refuge for Neanderthals, who had survived in local pockets during previous Ice Ages, bouncing back to Europe when weather conditions improved. The study is based upon climate reconstructions elaborated from marine records and using the experience of Spanish and international research groups on Western Mediterranean paleoceanography. The conclusions point out that Neanderthal populations did suffer fluctuations related to climate changes before the first Homo Sapiens arrived in the Iberian Peninsula. Cold, arid and highly variable climate was the least favourable weather for Neanderthals and 24,000 years ago they had to face the worst weather conditions in the last 250,000 years.
     The most important about these data is that they differ from the current scientific paradigm which makes Homo Sapiens responsible for the Neanderthal extinction. This work is a contribution to a new scientific current leaded by Dr. Clive Finlayson, from the Gibraltar Museum according to which Neanderthal isolation and, possibly, extinction were due to environmental factors.

Sources: University of Grenada (25 April 2007), Alpha Galileo (30 April 2007)

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